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The Fabulous London Cooking Club – Ottolenghi Night

You can find the Masterchef Ottolenghi Recipes here.

The fabulous Luiz Hara of www.TheLondonFoodie.com hosts these dinner parties under the banner of The London Cooking Club where he invites friends and readers of his blog to participate in these really International foodie fests.   Each cooking club evening is themed to either a cookbook or a type of cuisine like Syrian and Japanese. This particular evening, the theme was Ottolenghi and all the dishes are from the 2 Ottolenghi cook books, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Plenty.

London Cooking Club

Most of the guests at the cooking club don’t know each other so it’s a nice surprise element to the evening as you never know who you might meet there. A menu is suggested for the evening and everyone has to cook one of the dishes for the dinner party. On this particular evening, we also had Alistair who was the AP photographer taking some photos for an article featuring Luiz on London Supper Clubs which got syndicated all over the web.

You would have thought that so many cooks in one kitchen would be tricky but as most dishes were prepared off site and finished here, together with Luiz’s meticulous organisation, the evening ran like a well oiled machine. This was the menu that Luiz put together for the evening :

Canapes

1. The very moreish Sweet Potato Galettes (Ottolenghi 181), made by Patrice, a Mauritian prop trader. This was really delicious and was accompanied by a demi sec Cava.

Ottolenghi - Sweet Potato Galettes

Soup

2. Green Gazpacho (Plenty 180) with Pear Crostini (Plenty 278) which was meticulously prepared by Kelly, newly arrived from Sydney where she used to run the Food Safari. The griddled pears with melting goats cheese with crusty crostini went really well with the herby Gazpacho, accompanied by the chilled bottle of Manzanilla sherry.


Green Gazpacho with Pear Crostini

Starters

3. Dr G made this Caramelised Garlic Tart (Plenty 38), made with 4 heads of caramelised garlic, thyme, balsamic, 2 types of goats cheese and cream. This was so delicious and is definitely one that I am going to try again at home.

Caramelised Garlic Tart,

4. Chargrilled Asparagus, courgettes Manouri (Ottolenghi 33) was made by Cara (@Gourmetchick) who carried this beautiful bowl all across London. This dish was the perfect accompaniment to the garlic tart.

Char-grilled Asparagus, courgettes & Manouri Salad
5. “Char-grilled Seafood, Fennel & Lime Salad” was another dish that Dr G prepared. Loved the zingy flavours of the seafood with lime juice. I could have had lots more of this but had to pace myself for the main courses to come.

Char-grilled Seafood, Fennel & Lime Salad

Char-grilled Seafood, Fennel & Lime Salad

Mains

6. Harissa Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad (Ottolenghi 119c) which was chicken marinated with spicy harissa, prepared by Gerald, an interior designer from Austria. He was a trained chef and he brought along a Rose to go with his dish.

Harissa Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad"

7.We could smell the heady aroma of Roast Pork Belly with Spiced Red Plum, Ginger Rhubarb Relish (Ottolenghi 114/115) all through the earlier courses and the experience certainly matched the anticipation. This was the first cooking club experience for Hugh O’Leare’s and his pork dish and the relish was a big hit.

Roast Pork Belly with Spiced Red Plum, Ginger & Rhubarb Relish

8. Marinated Aubergines with Tahini Oregano (Ottolenghi 26) was lovingly made by banker, Linda. She painstakingly made her own tahini to go into the sauce for this dish and has to be applauded as the flavours were amazing and had to be tasted to be appreciated.

Marinated Aubergines with Tahini & Oregano

9. French Beans Mangetout with Hazelnut Orange (Ottolenghi 37) and Etti’s Herb Salad (Ottolenghi 23) is regularly on Luiz’s menu. It might look deceptively simple but the combination of ingredients makes it more than a side dish. Hazelnut oil, orange blossom water, chives, dry roasted hazelnuts, thinly sliced orange peel turns a simple vegetable dish into a real winner.

French Beans & Mange-tout with Hazelnut & Orange

10. I made this dish to go with the main courses -Kosheri (mix of couscous, vermicelli noodles lentils – Ottolenghi 85) or Green Couscous (Plenty 225). It looks deceptively simple but used up about 4 pots and pans and took a bit longer than anticipated as there were several stages to this dish. I did improvise with some of the ingredients like I used Chinese rice vermicelli, canned tomatoes ( but had to guess the quantities) and made lots more fried onions to go with it. It turned out to be quite a rich rice dish with the butter playing a starring role to the mixture of textures of rice and lentils. See the Kosheri recipe below.

Kosheri

Dessert

11. The end of this marathon meal was topped by this unctious Orange Polenta Cake (Ottolenghi 195) which Elizabeth Truss made. We were totally ignorant as when she said she did something in politics, little did we know that she meant she was  a Tory MP in Norfolk. I had brought along a Veneto Dessert Wine made by Pieropan (1999) which I thought would be an nice match for the pudding.

Orange Polenta Cake

If you like to cook, love to eat, are adventurous without too many foodie hangups, you should sign up for one of the future cooking clubs that Luiz is hosting. It was a truly memorable and International food and social evening, as always Luiz and Dr G were the perfect hosts.

Kosheri recipe from the Ottolenghi The Cookbook

According to the book, this lentil and rice dish is one of the most popular in Egypt and is sold by street vendors and specialist restaurants. It is quite similar to the Indian Kitchari or the kedgeree which is also a derivation of kitchari in the first place. This is usually served with a spicy tomato sauce and sometimes a cucumber, tomato and yoghurt salad.

The list of ingredients might look daunting but it is actually quite easy to make. Just know that it takes up quite a few pans but the finished product is well worth the effort.

Ingredients

300g green lentils

200g basmati rice
40g unsalted butter
50g vermicelli noodles, broken into 4cm pieces ( I used chinese rice vermicelli and it puffed up nicely.)
400ml chicken stock or water
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4tbsp olive oil
2 white onions, halved and thinly sliced

For the sauce
4tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 hot red chilies, seeded and finely diced
8 ripe tomatoes, chopped (tinned are fine)  - I used one tin of tomatoes instead
370ml water – Add the water to taste as this much made it really watery
4tbsp cider vinegar – I might reduce the vinegar too as it seemed too strong
3tsp salt
2tsp ground cumin
20g coriander leaves, chopped

Start with the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, vinegar, salt and cumin. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 min, until slightly thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the coriander and then taste. See if you want to add any salt, pepper or extra coriander. Keep hot, or leave to cool; both ways will work with the hot kosheri. Just remember to adjust the seasoning again when cold.

To make the kosheri, place the lentils in a large sieve and wash them under a cold running tap. Transfer to a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 min. The lentils should be tender, but far from mushy. Drain in a colander and leave to one side.

In a large bowl, cover the rice with cold water, wash and then drain well. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the raw vermicelli, stir and continue frying and stirring until the vermicelli turns golden brown. Add the drained rice and mix well until it is coated in the butter. Now add the stock or water, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper Bring to the boil, cover and then reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer for 12 min. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and put the lid back on. Leave like that for about 5 min; this helps to make the rice light and fluffy.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and sauté over a medium heat for about 20 min, until dark brown. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain.

To serve, lightly break up the rice with a fork, and then add the lentils, and most of the onions, reserving a few for garnish. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Pile the rice high on a serving platter and top with the remaining onions. Serve hot, with the tomato sauce.

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Comments

  1. Wow, what a lovely write-up, you really captured the evening to a T! Thank you so much for coming to the evening, it was such a pleasure to see you and have your delicious Kosheri! I had never tried this dish before and am now a total convert. Thank you for writing about this event, and hope to see you at future ones too!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  2. I am great fan of the London Cooking Club!
    I prepared the beans and hazelnut salad and Caramel Orange polenta many times they are sensational. Love all Ottolenghis recipes, very inspiring.

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